Based on two sets of land use data (1985 and 2000), the land use change in Horqin Desert and its outer area, in both spatial and temporal aspects, was studied with the tools of geographical information system (GIS) and statistics in this paper. Conclusions of this study are drawn as follows: From 1985 to 2000, the area order of individual land use changes was grassland>plough land>forestland>unused land>water body>residential and industrial land. As to the form of changes, the swapping area was greater than its quantitative change for forestland while the quantity change was greater, with different degree, than swap for the rest 5 land use types. As a whole, the quantity change was far greater than its swap. The analysis of land use dynamics showed that the speed of individual land use changes was in order of cultivated land>water body>grassland>forestland>unused land>residential and industrial land in sequence. Meanwhile, there was notable difference of land use change among counties in the region. For plough land change, Zhalute county was the greatest, Naiman the smallest. For forest change, Naiman was the greatest, Kalaqin the smallest. For grassland change, Tongliao city was the greatest, Alukerqin the smallest. For water change, Kezuozhongqi was the greatest, Balinzuoqi the smallest.
For residential and industrial land change, Naiman was the greatest, Alukerqin the smallest. Finally, the change of unused land is more obvious in Chifeng city. As to the spatial change, 9 major land use change types were identified. Wherein, the change from grassland to plough land, expanding from the center of Horqin desert towards its outer counties, was still the most important land use change for the whole study area. In addition, the construction of protective forest for grassland in Naiman, the return from plough land to forestland in Kezuozhongqi, the return from plough land to grassland in Tongliao city, the deforestation for plough land in Kukun county, the degradation of grassland in Zhaluteqi, the exploit of river beach in Kailu, the reclamation of unused land in Kezuohouqi, and the regeneration of natural vegetation in Alukerqin were all important regional characteristics of land use change during the past 15 years.